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Taking it global

| March 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Back in the US, many schools are using technology to forge meaningful, long-lasting, global online connections.

To do so, says researcher Robin Flanigan, they’re satisfying curiosity that can’t be cured by textbooks, learning international diplomacy and cultivating tolerance and compassion as they learn that other countries may not, for example, enjoy access to superior bandwidth or hi-tech gadgets.

All of these acquired skills pave the way for the development of critical thinking. At South Plantation High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for example, students started speaking to peers around the globe five years ago. In that time they’ve made friends with earthquake survivors in Haiti, widows in Afghanistan and indentured servants in Pakistan. Since 2012, they’ve communicated with a school in Nagoya, Japan, and with students in a Yemeni refugee camp.

At Mount Carmel Area High School in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, 400 students from Australia, Canada, England, Germany and South Korea are involved in online projects with Suzie Nestico’s social sciences students. Nestico is the project manager for the Flat Classroom Project, an international collaborative effort that links schools all around the world. She’s also started a course called 21st Century Global Studies that requires students to work together on projects like editing wiki pages. Bill L. Williams Elementary School in Bakersfield, California decided to use the ePals social learning network to link his classroom with those in Iceland, Norway and Singapore. EPals joins more than half a million classrooms in more than 200 countries and territories.

And students at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson, New York, have formed close bonds with young people orphaned by the colossal earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. The relationships provide important psychological links, report all the teachers, but plenty of light-hearted moments too. Says Nestico, two years ago, during an education-related trip to Mumbai, India, she had to hastily hide T-shirts that ‘exclaimed’ “Holy cow!”, because cows are considered sacred animals in India. 

Category: Autumn 2013, e-Education

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